The VW Crafter 4Motion is the four-wheel drive version of Volkswagen’s large panel van, the Crafter. The Volkswagen Crafter 4Motion competes with other 4×4 vans, like the Ford Transit AWD, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4×4 and Iveco Daily 4×4, and offers a more practical alternative to the traditional pickup truck.
Volkswagen has been selling four-wheel drive of its large panel vans for generations, including the popular VW LT 4×4 of the 1970’s and 1980’s. More recently, the German manufacturer has offered 4Motion technology on just its small and medium vans, the Caddy and Transporter, although specialist 4×4 converter Achleitner did offer a 4×4 version of the previous generation Crafter.
Now though, Volkswagen has ended its relationship with Mercedes-Benz to build the Crafter, and has instead built a brand-new state-of the-art production facility in Poland. This means it is now able to offer 4×4 versions of the Crafter that are built in-house and straight from the factory line.
VW Crafter 4Motion engine and driveline
Under the bonnet will be a newly-developed 2.0-litre TDi engine, which is inclined 8-degrees towards the grille to provide free up some space for the cab, and there is just one power rating of 177hp @ 3,600rpm (410Nm @ 1,500-2,500rpm).
The engine is transversely mounted (same as the front-wheel drive models, but different to the longitudinally mounted rear-wheel drive models) and is available with either a six-speed manual transmission or a super smooth eight-speed AQ450 torque converter automatic.
The permanent all-wheel drive system comes with a high level of active safety and uses Haldex coupling, which has been tried and tested in a wide range of Volkswagen Group vehicles. The Haldex coupling is fitted on the rear axle and distributes drive between the front and rear axles, depending on which has the more traction. An optional rear diff-lock is also available.
Panel van practicality
Due to the limited size of the market, there are very few different variants of the VW Crafter 4Motion in the UK. Four-wheel drive versions have a raised chassis and extra suspension travel to tackle the more challenging terrain but, apart from the increased loading height, there is very little difference between 4Motion and the 2WD models.
In terms of panel vans, there will be two load lengths (3,450mm and 4,300mm) and two roof heights (1,832mm and 1,961mm). For conversions, there are two wheelbases and a choice of single or double cabs. Single cab dropside and tipper bodies, which are expected to make up a large proportion of sales, measure 2,030mm wide and 3,400mm (short wheelbase) and 4,300mm (long wheelbase) in length.
Payloads are rated up to 1,542kg on the medium wheelbase panel van, 1,132kg on the single cab dropside and 992kg on the single cab tipper.
Ride and comfort
The raised seating position and low-lying windows provides great all-round visibility and, while the dashboard layout maybe a little dull and uninspiring, it’s very practical and there are plenty of useful storage spaces dotted around the cab.
For the first time, electromechanical steering has been introduced into a large van, which lends itself well to the different driving environments; light and responsive in the city, and less sensitive on the motorway.
In the bends, the Crafter composes itself really well thanks to the firmer suspension. There is very little body roll, although divots and bumps are felt a bit more readily than on other vans of this size.
VW Crafter 4Motion price
The 4Motion version of the Volkswagen Crafter is comes with a £5,000 to £7,000 premium on top of the standard Crafter, with prices starting at £34,585 plus VAT for the CR35, medium wheelbase chassis cab and £35,870 plus VAT for the medium roof panel van. Prices extend to £40,120 plus VAT for the Highline, long wheelbase.
Also read: Iveco Daily 4×4 review